Title: Entretiens sur la Pluralité des Mondes, suivis des Dialogues des Morts, 1824
Author: Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle
Publisher: Ledentu/Lecointe et Duret, Paris
An early 19th century edition of Fontenelle’s Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, coupled with his edited version of Lucien’s Dialogue of the Dead.
First published in 1686, Fontenelle’s work provides an explanation of the heliocentric model of the solar system, originally suggested by Nicolaus Copernicus. The book itself is written as a series of conversations between a philosopher and marquise, taking a stroll in the garden while gazing at the stars. Interestingly, the philosopher also muses on the possibility of life beyond the stars, or extra-terrestrial life in short.
As for Lucien’s Dialogue of the Dead, this work is a satire around the Cynic philosophers Diogenes of Sinope and his student Menippus, who lived modest lives while breathing, and continue to live in leisure in the nightmarish Underworld, while those who had lived lives of luxury experience torment when faced by the same conditions. This work draws on earlier literary precursors as well, including the necromantic rite of nekyia in Homer's Odyssey, while building on them. While Homer’s description of nekyia depicts transgressors against the gods being punished for their sins, Lucian has built on this idea by having the cruel and greedy become additional punished as well.
The iconic folding plate of a starry night sky and solar system is present.
One volume in 12mo, 206 pages
On note of condition, this volume is in good shape, with the gilt binding shining brightly, and with minimal wear present asides from the joints. There is minor foxing present throughout the volume.